The Beach of Les Andalouses, west of Oran (above). The landings here were unopposed. Eastern part of Oran harbor (below). Early on Nov 8, two British ships (ex-US Coast Guard cutters), carrying about 400 US soldiers, entered the port between the moles shown in the distance. The ships came under point-blank fire from French naval vessels in the harbor and from shore batteries. They returned the fire but were sunk with great loss of life. When resistance in Oran ceased at noon on Nov 10, the port was cluttered with ships either sunk by British naval gunfire or sabotaged. Port installations had received only minor damage and were quickly put to use
Supplies on the Beach of Les Andalouses on D Day. Most of the Allied supply problems, both on the Atlantic side and in the Mediterranean, were caused by destruction of landing craft. About 95 percent were used during initial landings leaving few reserves for the build-up. The large seaworthy LST’s (Landing Ship Tank), which were to play a decisive role in all subsequent landings, were introduced by the British in the Oran area to carry light American tanks for beach landings
Unloading Supplies and laying prefabricated track on the beach in the Golfe d’Arzeu east of Oran (above). Guarding French and French colonial prisoners captured in the same vicinity (below). The plan for the capture of Oran and near-by airfields consisted of the frontal attack on the port itself and landings on both sides of the city at Mersat bou Zedjar and Les Andalouses west of Oran, and in the Golfe d’Arzeu east of Oran. Of the beach landings, those at Arzeu were much the largest and were made with little resistance. By the afternoon of D Day all opposition in the neighborhood had ceased. (above: 3 LCM (3)’s on the beach; at center, offshore, is an LCM (1))
(Above and Below) Captured Train at Saint-Leu on the Golfe d’Arzeu. The railroad from Casablanca to Tunis figured prominently in the planning of the African invasion. If the forces on the Mediterranean coast were to be cut off by sea, supplies could be carried by railroad from Casablanca. During the fighting in Tunisia and the build-up in Africa for the invasion of Europe, this railroad played an important part. After its capture it was repaired and improved. Locomotives and rolling stock were obtained from the United States to speed delivery of supplies
Troops Loading into Assault Craft from transport prior to landing near Algiers. With minor exceptions, the landing craft were manned by Royal Navy personnel. Landings took place on beaches on both sides of the city as well as in the port itself. Although beach landings were not heavily opposed, one of the two British destroyer-transports making a frontal attack on the port had three boilers damaged by fire from shore but discharged her load of US troops on a dock at 0520, D Day. Some troops were surrounded and taken to a French military prison, others regained the ship before she was eventually driven off. The hostilities here ceased the same day and the soldiers were set free by the French. (On davits, center of photograph: LCP(R))
Algiers, the Most Important Object of the North African invasion. The ultimate goals for the operation were Bizerte and Tunis, but because of the land-based enemy aircraft in Sardinia, Sicily, and southern Italy, it was decided to land no troops farther east than Algiers until airports had been captured. British-American elements at Algiers reembarked for a movement eastward to Bougie where they landed on Nov 11. Bône was captured the following day by British paratroopers dropped from C–47’s and by seaborne forces from Bougie. From there the advance toward Tunis started. Allied columns reached Djedeida, twelve miles from Tunis, on Nov 29, 1942, but rapid enemy build-up forced the Allies to abandon it on Dec 13
Antiaircraft Defense over Algiers at Night. The city suffered practically no damage during the invasion. On the first evening of its surrender it was bombed by enemy planes. This attack was followed by many others, mostly aimed at the concentration of shipping in the harbor. Damage was surprisingly small. Algiers became Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ).
French Prisoners of War Captured During the Invasion. The prisoners were released shortly after the end of hostilities, Nov 11, and from then on fought on the side of the Allies. On Nov 15, orders were issued for the movement of French troops, then at Algiers and Constantine, to protect the southern flank of the American and British units advancing into Tunisia along the northern coast The French were reinforced by US troops, including tank destroyer units, and one of their assigned missions was the protection of advanced airfields in the Tébessa–Gafsa area.
Aviation Engineers at Youks-Les-Bains lining up for mess. This Algerian airfield near Tébessa and the Tunisian border was occupied by US paratroopers on Nov 15, 1942. It became operational for P–38 fighter planes (Lockheed Lightnings) shortly afterward. During the first few weeks there were no provisions for landing after dark and on Nov 21, six P–38’s crashed while trying to land in the evening. It was not an improved field and there was no effective air-raid system. The first warning of enemy aircraft was frequently the strafing or bombing itself. When the rains started, operations were drastically reduced by mud.
US Tankers Heating Their C Rations, Spam and beans, over an improvised stove at Souk el Arba, Tunisia. The Souk el Arba area was taken by British paratroopers on Nov 16. When the attempt to advance to Tunis was officially abandoned on Dec 24, both sides started a race to build up strength for the battle to come. The US troops were at first committed piecemeal in different sectors of the line as they arrived from Algeria. Much of the Allied armor was obsolete and none of it was on a par with the best German equipment. (General Grant Tank M-3.)
German MK-VI-1 Tiger Tank. This heavy tank was encountered early in the campaign. The German High Command was particularly concerned with the performance of the Tiger in the defense of Tunis. Its high-velocity 88-MM gun, equipped with a muzzle-brake, could knock out Allied tanks before the latter could get within effective range; and within range, Allied tank guns could not penetrate its frontal armor. The Tiger sacrificed mobility for armor and fire power. To avoid weak bridges, it was equipped with telescopic air intake, exhaust extensions, and over-all sealing that enabled it to cross rivers fifteen feet deep, completely submerged on the bottom. The gun has a traverse of 360 degrees. Top picture is rear view of tank; bottom is front view. (Tiger, Pz., Kpfw., gun 8.8-cm., Kw. K. 36.)
(Above and Below) German Stuka Dive Bombers. These aircraft co-operated closely with ground forces, bombing and strafing ahead of their own advancing columns in addition to roaming behind the lines disrupting traffic and creating confusion. The bombers could operate successfully only where they had air superiority. In the later stages of the Tunisia Campaign, as the Allies gained air superiority, their effectiveness dwindled. The Germans turned a number of these planes over to the Italians. (Dive bomber, German Stuka JU–87.)
(Above and Below) German Figther Planes. The primary mission of these planes was to intercept and destroy bombers but they were also used for strafing and fighter bombing. The enemy used these types until the end of the war. (Top, German Focke-Wulf 190; bottom, German Messerschmitt 109)
Camouflaging Medium Bomber at Youks-les-Bains airfield. Camouflaging for hiding purposes in olive groves or on rough terrain was relatively successful; however, camouflaging an aircraft on a flat, featureless landing field for hiding purposes was not practical. Camouflaging was often practiced to the extent of deceiving the enemy about the type or serviceability of planes. Note that the bomber above is minus both of its engines. (Martin B–26 Marauder.)
Removing Film From Figther Plane after a reconnaissance flight. This long-range plane was adapted for photographic work by removing the armament and installing camera equipment instead. (P–38 Lightning)
Light Bomber Douglas A-20. This was a fast, versatile, and heavily armed plane used for both bombing and strafing in Tunisia. The American version was usually called the Havoc and the British version, the Boston
Heavy Bomber, Flying Fortress. This and the B–24 were the two heavy US four-engined bombers used in the Mediterranean area. (Boeing B–17)
APO (American Post Office) Oran. Mail from home was probably the most important of all morale factors and usually had first priority in spite of the fact that it occupied valuable shipping space needed for materials of war. Cargo space was saved with the V-Mail system by which letters were written on a special form, photographed on 16-MM film at certain centers in the country of origin, then printed overseas. To encourage its use, V-Mail was sent by the fastest means available. Letters from men in the services, other than those by regular air mail, were sent free of charge
Infantreymen in Training near Oran. Training centers for all arms were opened in French Morocco and Algeria soon after the end of hostilities there in November 1942.
Parachute Troops Checking Equipment before boarding planes for practice jump. These troops were essentially infantrymen and were armed with infantry weapons. Their boots, higher than the infantry shoes, were constructed to give ankles a maximum amount of protection when landing.
Paratroopers during Training Jump. Light artillery, food, and light vehicles were dropped separately with different colored parachutes, or came in by glider.
Douglas C-47 Transport Towing a Waco CJ4A Glider. The gliders carried both men and equipment and could be landed in almost any flat pasture. The C–47 aircraft the work horse of the war was similar to the commercial DC–3, a standard type passenger carrier in the United States for some years prior to the war. The C–47, unarmed, was used during the war for carrying personnel and cargo of all sorts, towing gliders, dropping parachute troops, and parachuting supplies to isolated units and equipment to partisans behind enemy lines. The British called it the Dakota
Glider Troops loading a 75-MM pack howitzer into a Waco cargo glider during training. Although this form of air transport was not used during the hostilities in northwest Africa, it was employed in subsequent operations based in North Africa
Testing a Waterproofed Sherman Tank on an African beach. These tanks were intended to go, during an assault, onto the beach with the infantry whenever possible. The main body of tanks would follow on LST’s as soon as the beachhead had been secured. The follow-up tanks, landed from the ship via ponton piers directly to shore, were not normally waterproofed. (Sherman tank M-4A1.)
(Above and Below) Lend-Lease Equipment for the French Army. P-38 Lockheed Lightning fighter plane (top) and Sherman tank (bottom). In January 1943, it was agreed that the United States would equip the French divisions formed from units then in North Africa, but comparatively little modern equipment became available for them in Tunisia until the summer of 1943. (P–38; Sherman tank M-4.)
French Troops Receiving Instructions on US Equipment, in this case on the 105-MM high-explosive shell. During the summer of 1943 shipments of arms and equipment for the French arrived in North African ports in increasing volume. Training was accelerated and by the end of the year two fully equipped French divisions were fighting side by side with the Americans and British in Italy. As more equipment became available, additional French divisions were sent to the front
Quartermaster Dump at Oran. Foodstuffs, stored in the open sometimes for months, suffered very little in spite of the hot African sun.
Freighter Burning in the Harbor of Algiers. The cause of the fire was not determined. While air raids on Algiers caused little damage to shipping and military installations, serious accidents and fires, some of which aroused suspicion of sabotage, were not infrequent
WAACS with full field equipment arriving at a North African port. The bill establishing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) became effective on May 14, 1942, and on July 1, 1943, a bill changing the status of the corps from an auxiliary serving with the Army to a component of the Army, Women’s Army Corps (WAC), became law. Most WAC duties in North Africa were of an administrative nature in offices of the various headquarters. Members of the Corps also worked in communications or other activities that could be handled as efficiently by women as by men
Air Force men at Breakfast in the Desert. The mornings were often cold even in the summer and the men wore their heavy leather jackets
Repairing the Motor of an Heavy Bomber B-17, the Boeing Flying Fortress. The sand and dust of the desert were hard on engines of all kinds. On the nose of the plane, swastikas indicate number of enemy aircraft shot down and bombs show number of bombing missions flown. (B–17)
Crew of a Heavy Bomber before taking off on a mission. During the first few months after the landings, the Allied air forces were handicapped in their operations from North African bases through lack of suitable airfields. The lack of all-weather facilities such as hard-surfaced runways, taxiways, and hardstands was particularly serious in the rainy winter season of 1942–43. In the area from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Tunisian border, there were only four air bases with any kind of hard-surfaced runways: Port-Lyautey, north of Casablanca; Tafaraoui, near Oran; Maison Blanche at Algiers; and the Bone airfield on the coast near the Tunisian border. (B–24)
(Above and Below) Digging out a Mired Flying Fortress from the mud of a North African bomber base